THE FRENCH ALPS Why Summering In The Alps Is Back

For years only frequented by locals and a handful of clued-up foreigners, the crisp mountain freshness, soaring valleys and sky high-blue of the French Alps is now becoming a must-visit Summer and savvy property investment destination.

THE FRENCH ALPS

Why Summering In The Alps Is Back

For years only frequented by locals and a handful of clued-up foreigners, the crisp mountain freshness, soaring valleys and sky high-blue of the French Alps is now becoming a must-visit Summer and savvy property investment destination.

Summer in the Alps, Lake Annecy -Athena Journal

For many years, summering in the Alps remained a rarely explored alternative to the beach. Everyone knew it was there, yet regardless of teeming sands and over-inflated prices, it just wasn’t as sexy as jetting off long haul, or taking part in the ‘see-and-be-seen’ routine of the chicest corners of the Med. So it was left to the locals, along with handfuls of clued-up foreigners who’d invested in alpine property, to soak up the crisp mountain freshness, soaring valleys and sky high-blue, to hike through summer meadows to feast on tarte-tatin and roasted poussin in wooden chalets.  Enveloped in nature and with few crowds to contend with, it was a private bliss.

It wasn’t that the municipal Alpine governments didn’t try: Significant sums have been invested over the last decade in improving services and developing events and kids activity programs that now rate as some of the most comprehensive in Europe, but its taken a while for the tidal wave of winter visitors to catch on to the possibility of returning as summer guests. 

According to Charles Antoine Sialleli, the Alps expert for property consultancy Athena Advisers “People are always looking for the next destination, and finally they have started to explore what’s closer to home.  Driven by the economic turbulence of the last decade and the recent spread of instability across Europe due to conflict in the Middle-East, travellers are having to be clever about how they spend their money, and to re-think vacations in traditional Mediterranean hotspots like Turkey and Greece.” With prices around 1/3 of winter rates, the Alps is one of the few places in Europe where summer is considered ‘low season’, making for the rarest of unicorns, the affordable family holiday.  “Its great value, particularly when you consider how accessible it is for most Europeans – they just throw everything in the car, saving on airfares, local car-rental and a lot of the stress that comes with travelling with kids. On arrival, they are welcomed with stunning natural beauty, a perfect summer climate that swings between 25-30 degrees and a lot of activities to keep kids entertained”. 

Pierre Sejalon, the tourism director of La Rosière, a charming alpine village that’s been hailed as the ‘Rising Star of the Alps’, cites the growing global passion for mountain biking and wellness as key to drawing in summer visitors. Along with an extensive network of dedicated mountain bike paths and a fully adapted chairlift system, last year La Rosière launched an electric bike service, opening up the chance to explore the alps to a whole new market beyond the traditional adventure lovers. "Its really opened up the mountains for the first time. Both serious bikers and families love the fact that La Rosière is connected to Italy by the St Bernard Pass, so you can explore both sides - croissants for breakfast and spaghetti for lunch! The e-bikes also mean you can have a leisurely lunch with a few glasses of wine and not worry too much about getting back". While improved infrastructure and trails has made biking more  a more mainstream, less high-octane adventure activity, the rise in extreme adventure sports, from base-jumping and canyoning, to heli-hiking and the Mont-Blanc marathon means the area holds serious sway for adrenaline junkies. 

Chalet Rosière,  Summer in the Alps - Athena Journal

Yet while the world is well-versed in the Alps’s out-door adventure side, it’s the rise in demand for fitness-focused holidays and wellness retreats that is the final trend helping to put summer in the Alps back on the map. Ski yoga retreats that used to decamp to Ibiza are sticking around for the summer, with a fast-growing 4 day yoga festival in Val D’Isere every April driving increasing awareness. Alex and Philip Volkers, a London couple (professional photographer and ex-model-International Economic Law graduate) and owners of Chalet Rosière moved out to La Rosière last November:  “We had had enough for the pace, pollution and craziness of London and decided to move out to the Alps to run a family ski-chalet as a boutique business, but soon realized how well adapted it was for wellness.  We ourselves were feeling so much better just being here, and we saw the potential to develop this”. What started as ski yoga holidays evolved into a summer series of full-moon yoga retreats that range from a gentler mountain yoga and wildflower hiking retreat to a hard-core fitness version, combining mountain-biking and a detox diet with twice daily yoga classes, spa treatments and time scheduled for relaxing and soaking in the hot-tub. "It’s a chance to really reconnect with nature not too far from London – it was what I was looking for as a busy Londoner and its the driver that we are seeing with a lot of clients.  Summer in the Alps is defined by this amazing light, and a real evolution of nature patterns, from the wildflowers of the late-spring to the dramatic storms of late-summer. In winter, you are often cooped up, weighed down by equipment and need to get in a car to explore – Summer is my favorite because it gives you the freedom to really roam"

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